American Sociological Association (ASA) conference supports unionized labor

Back in mid-Dec., the American Sociological Association (ASA) announced that it had pulled out of its 2011 conference contract with Chicago hotels because the hotels had not settled a labor dispute with local unions. The ASA now has to find and negotiate a contract for a new conference site that (1) is large enough to accommodate hordes of sociologists and (2) relies on unionized labor to host the upcoming August conference. For some, this change has altered or put on hold plans for mini-conferences and pre-conference workshops. For others, the conference location can impact the likelihood of attending/presenting at a conference – particularly for academics at public universities, declining budgets may mean less or no support for travel and conferences, which are crucial to sharing work and building a community of peers.

Orgtheory has posted an informal poll of possible locations for the 2011 ASA annual conference; see the last option for an amusing suggestion.

For those interested in supporting hotels that use unionized labor, click this link to a website.

Next stop: ARNOVA in Alexandria, VA, Nov. 18-20, 2010

Starting Thur., Nov. 18, 2010, I’ll be at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) annual conference at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, 5000 Seminary Road Alexandria, Virginia 22311. Along with colleagues Angie Eikenberry and Lehn Benjamin, I’ll be facilitating the Thur. 7:30pm section meeting of the Community and Grassroots Associations (CGAP) in Lakeside I room.

On Sat., Nov. 20, 2010, sometime between 8:15 and 9:45am EST, I’ll be presenting “Storytelling for Accountability in the Burning Man Organization.”

Burning Man at Open Video Conference in New York City/live online this Fri., Oct. 1, 2010 5:30-6:30 pm EDT

Here’s a chance to learn and give feedback on Burning Man’s policy on the use of images. I will be moderating the discussion – you can participate in-person or virtually. Below, I’m quoting the original post from here.

“Ever wonder what the small print on the back of a Burning Man ticket really means to a photographer? Want to understand why Burning Man has certain “Terms and Conditions” regulating media use? Curious about how the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) recent criticisms have affected Burning Man’s policy on the use of images? Want to learn more about this or share your opinion? Join us for an ongoing public dialogue about digital rights at Burning Man and implications for wider society!

On Fri., Oct. 1, 2010 5:30-6:30 pm EDT, Burning Man IP Legal Counsel Terry Gross and Burning Man adviser Rosalie Barnes will have a panel discussion with EFF’s Corynne McSherry at the Open Video Conference. The panel meets at the Auditorium of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), located at Seventh Avenue and W. 27th Street in New York City.

You’re invited to participate in-person or virtually! Details about registering for in-person are here:

The session will be streamed live via the Internet on the main conference page via Folks watching online will be able to tweet questions to discussion moderator Katherine Chen using a hashtag. For more info and online discussion about Burning Man’s digital rights policy, go here:

This is what Open Video Conference has on their site:

“Summary: EFF v. Burning Man – (Friday, October 1 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM)

Description: Each year, Nevada’s Black Rock desert plays host to the Burning Man festival. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to celebrate self-reliance, creativity and freedom. Anything goes in Black Rock City–except, apparently, when you’ve got a camera in your hand…

For some time, the organization behind the event has enforced a highly restrictive set of policies around photography in Black Rock. Through its ticket sales and online terms of use, the Burning Man Organization claims ownership over all photos and videos created at the festival.

In late 2009, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Corynne McSherry went on the attack, criticizing these rules in a post at EFF’s Deep Links. This set off an internet battle for the ages. Burning Man argues these restrictions protect attendees’ privacy. People escape to Black Rock to express themselves freely, not have every action documented—-and they need to be protected. But EFF thinks attendees’ freedom of expression, and their copyrights, must be respected. How do you balance both concerns?

In a interesting turn of events, Burning Man, the EFF and Creative Commons have entered into negotiations to transform the largest counter cultural art gathering in the world into a legal platform for human readable language and free culture. Will it work? Will it crash? What will they as a team decide?

Join us for a real world ethics question, and a small-scale version of the free culture debate with insights into the governance of online video platforms, privacy, autonomy, and freedom of expression. Throw in panelists from Burning Man, EFF—and giant burning wicker man—and you have one interesting discussion.

Corynne McSherry — Electronic Frontier Foundation
Lightning Clearwater III — Burning Man IP Legal Counsel
Rosalie Barnes — Burning Man
Moderator: Katherine Chen – Assistant Professor of Sociology, CUNY””

Next talk: Thur., Sept. 30, 2010, 12:30-1:45pm EST, Dept. of Sociology, the City College of New York, CUNY in New York, NY

My next talk will be at my home institution, The City College of New York, CUNY, for the Social Science Faculty Seminar, which is organized by colleague Leslie Paik. If you do not have a City University of New York (CUNY) id, you will need a government issued id to enter the building.

The talk is scheduled for Thur., Sept. 30, 2010, 12:30-1:45pm EST, “Charismatizing the Routine: Storytelling for Meaning in the Burning Man Organization” at the North Academic Center, room 6/129, Dept. of Sociology, 160 Convent Ave., New York, NY 10031.

Next talk stop: Fri., Sept. 17, 2010, 1:30-3pm EST at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

My next talk will be Fri., Sept. 17, 2010, 1:30-3pm EST, at Room K1310, in the Ross School of Business, Interdisciplinary Committee on Organization Studies, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. The title of the talk is: “Charismatizing the Routine: Storytelling in the Burning Man Organization.” Thank you, Prof. Jerry Davis, for the invitation, and Paula Kopka, for making the arrangements!

Burning Man’s PRECOMPRESSION Sat., June 19th in San Francisco

For those of you in the Bay area, this is a chance to participate in a pre-Burning Man event in San Francisco. Bring your art, volunteer, and meet new friends!

“Burning Man presents a Mega-PRECOMPRESSION…
Launching our 25th BURNING MAN Season!!!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
8pm to 4am; Come early to avoid the line and not miss the fire performances!
At The Concourse Exhibition Center and parking lot next door
635 8th St (enter at 7th St & Brannan), SF, CA 94103

$25 Advanced sale here. $30 Door in costume/playa finery; $35 street clothes; 21+ over; Outside Fire Art & Sculpture Garden; Inside Art & Artifacts

Art • Music • Performance * Fire Artistry * Theme Camps * Art Cars * You!

A historic & spectacular night! Celebrate on the original Summer Solstice weekend it all began in 1986 with a fiery and festive Precompression event in the heart of San Francisco! Ramp up your Radical Self-Expression because tonight marks the launch of the 25th Burning Man season and we want YOU to pARTicipate!

Join MANY longstanding playa favorites! Look back at where we’ve come from and get a sneak preview of Metropolis 2010 projects and where burners are going as a global community and culture.

Music & Performances: Mutaytor; Copper Lantern Fire Theater; Soul in the Machine; Vau de Vire Society; Capacitor; MoPo; Nocturnal Sunshine; Space Cowboys (8ball, Deckard, Zach Moore, EricHz, Kapt’n Kirk); UBUV; Afrolicious; Pyronauts; Scot Jenerik; Hookahdome; Gooferman; Smoove; Fou Fou Ha!; Dex Stakker; Hybridz ‘R Us; Mancub; Bad Unkl Sista; ICON; Tom Jonesing; EO; The Fossettes; Hobo Gobbelins; Shredder Hoops; Metamorphosis Ballet; Imps of Sneth; Firish; Kiss & Tell; Dark Sparkle Burlesque; CaroLuna; Isopop; Monkey Chant; DJ Dragonfly; Vulcan Crew; Neon Bunny; Ian Michael Smith & Bliss Butterfly; Mo Corleone; Shovelman; Alt Tal; Justin Credible; Spiral; Magician Brad Barton; beatbox by One Mouth Band; Matt Jalbert; SatsiSonik; Whiskey Devil; Nancy Asiya Belly Dance; a Kidnap Fashion Show “curated” by Animal Control; and MEGA-many more!

Art & Artifacts: Jennybird Alcantara; Dana Albany; Maricela Alvarez; David Best; Bruce Beeley; Joegh Bullock; James Cole; Karen Cusolito; Dan DasMann; Tony Deifell; Chris De Monterey; Wally Glenn; Emma Hardy; Justin Gray; Flaming Lotus Girls; Flux Foundation; Al Honig; Laura Kimpton; Kinetic Cab Company; Lasers&; Danny Macchiarini; Nightshade; Playaflies; Kitty Gordon; Jess Hobbs and Rebecca Anders; $teven Ra$pa; Pierre Riche; Mini Man & The Mini Man Crew; Brad Templeton; Todd Williams; Ben Zero; and more!

Art Cars & Camps: Playapus Corralus; Bed Rock Hot Rod Taxi; PhotoBoof; Tundra Bunny; Nautilus X; The UNIMOG; Black Rock Indie Fest; Peoples Spa; Workshop Corner; Earth Guardians; Little Shop of Horrors, Excellent Adventure Display, etc and HOORAY!

So, dust off that playa spirit and dress to express! This night is the focal point of a full month of celebrations and events leading up to our 25th Burning Man event and the year beyond. You won’t want to miss it! More info and schedules:

Artists, art cars, non-sound theme camps, and acoustic performers still interested in participating, email: Especially string musicians to play unamplified in the sculpture garden after our sound permit ends outside.

To volunteer:”

Burning Man film festival in San Francisco, June 12-13, 2010

For those of you in San Francisco, you have the chance to celebrate Burning Man’s history via film. Films include a documentary about the artist David Best, who constructed the temple that appears on the cover of my book!

Please read the official press release below:

“Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco: A Unique Two-Day Film Retrospective to Commemorate 25 Years of Burning

(San Francisco, May 26th, 2010)—The Official Burning Man Film Festival will showcase 20 short and feature length films when it takes place on June 12-13, 2010 in San Francisco. The Film Festival will offer theatergoers a unique look at Burning Man through the eyes of filmmakers who’ve documented various aspects of the Burning Man event and culture throughout the years. Saturday’s “Then” line-up will feature films shot between 1991 and 2004 and Sunday’s “Now” queue boasts an array of films shot from 2002 to 2010. The festival will be held at the Red Vic Movie House at 1727 Haight Street, SF, CA 94117.

“This festival is a rare and unique opportunity to see Burning Man from the beginning,” said festival co-producer David Marr. “[The Film Festival] is a chance to see how [Burning Man] was created and what effect it has on us today.”

Program highlights include a Midnight screening of Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man by David Vaisbord on Saturday evening with a cocktail party, roving performers, and a grand raffle. On Sunday, David Best, known for his elaborate temple structures at Burning Man will be available for a Q & A before the screening of The Temple Builder, a film by Dearbhla Glynn and April Blake that looks closely at David Best’s life and work.

To view the Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco program, visit

The Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco is one of several special events coming up in June to kickoff a year-long celebration of 25 years of Burning Man. For more information on upcoming events, please visit”

New blog on community and grassroots associations research and practice launching

As part of my service responsibilities to the Community and Grassroots Associations (CGA) section of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), I am also blogging here. We haven’t made an official launch yet but will do so soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in research and practice on community and grassroots associations, you can sign up to receive email notifications about posts or subscribe to the facebook fanpage. In addition, please consider joining ARNOVA and the CGA section as a member! (Unfortunately, I cannot directly link to the membership page, but click on this page and then click “join ARNOVA” in the horizontal menu.) The annual conference is a fun way of connecting with other researchers and practitioners.

To start things off, at the CGAP blog, I’ve blogged about online videos available from a recent conference that brought together leading social science scholars who each briefly presented on which hard problem social science research should pursue. Of particular interest to Burners is Ann Swidler’s call for deeper insight into “how societies both create and restore institutions,” including the nation, government, marriage, university, etc. Burners, consider how your activities with Burning Man have impacted your skills and experiences (both positive and negative) with organization. Then think about how these experiences have, in turn, affected your involvement in the workplace, other community-based organizations or voluntary associations, etc.

Talk by Ann Swidler at the Graduate Center, NYC at 3pm EST this Fri., April 16, 2010

Those of you who are interested in the arts or culture might like this talk by a seminal scholar in the sociology of culture this Fri. at the Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Ave. in NYC:

“Prof. Ann Swidler of University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar, Russell Sage, is the speaker of our colloquium on Friday, April 16 at 3 pm EST in the sociology lounge (6th floor) at the Graduate Center . Prof. Swidler will be speaking on “Access to pleasure: Aesthetics, social inequality, and the structure of culture production”. The talk argues that the Bourdieuian focus on “cultural capital” and culture as a basis for asserting “distinction” misses what is most fundamental to cultural practices: the pleasure of aesthetic experience. Then it analyzes how structured social inequalities affect the likelihood that different groups will have more or less access to pleasurable, exciting, or fulfilling cultural experiences.

A reception will follow the talk.”